In this episode, Stacy sits down with growth consultant and founder of Making Moxie, Shauna Armitage. The two discuss Shauna’s experience with creating an online publication community for female entrepreneurs, and they break down the difference between talking to someone and talking AT them.
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Welcome to Marketing Mistakes and How to Avoid Them. I’m Stacy Jones, the founder of influencer marketing and branded-content agency Hollywood Branded. This podcast provides brand marketers a learning platform for top experts to share their insights and knowledge on topics which make a direct impact on your business today.
While it is impossible to be well-versed on every topic and strategy that can improve bottom-line results, my goal is to help you avoid making costly mistakes of time, energy or money whether you are doing a DIY approach or hiring an expert to help. Let’s begin today’s discussion.
Welcome to Marketing Mistakes and How to Avoid Them. Here’s your host, Stacy Jones.
I’m so happy to be here with you all today. I want to give a very warm welcome to Shauna Armitage of Making Moxie, an online publication and community for female entrepreneurs. As a vocal advocate for women in business, Shauna is on a mission to redefine what looks like to be a working woman, which has led to her founding Making Moxie. She also actively practices as growth consultant for startups and small businesses, working closely with brand leaders to strategize for impact while guiding them on execution and accountability, as well she’s a part-time CMO for brands looking to scale.
Today, we’re going to talk about the difference between talking to someone and talking at them, which is a huge mistake she believes most marketers make. We’ll learn what’s worked from Shauna’s experience, what maybe could be avoided, and where people are missing them more. Shauna, welcome.
Thanks. I’m so happy to be here.
Well, I am delighted to have you here because I will say the talking to someone versus talking at them is something I have certainly experienced in my own career. Hopefully not doing it so much as having been on the receiving end of it. So, I’m looking forward to chatting through why this happens so often and how people can actually avoid this and be better communicators. Could you start off and tell us a little bit more about your background and what got you to where you’re doing what you do today?
Sure. I originally went to school to be a teacher and then got totally scared of the teacher test and went back to school to be a writer instead. They didn’t require so many tests to get a job. But when I graduated in 2011 with my second degree, the job market was really down, and I couldn’t score even an interview much less a job to save my life, so I started freelancing, and that led me to actually get a director of content position with a digital marketing agency, and it was at that point where I realized all this stuff that I’m doing is actually marketing.
I don’t think I ever realized it before that there was a word for it, and that’s how I really got into marketing and after years of working with brands that way. There was a lot of things about the digital agency model that I didn’t love. So, I really wanted to find a way that I could support brands and a way that felt in line with my values and an integrity with what I wanted to accomplish.
That makes sense. So when did you end up founding Making Moxie?
In the summer of 2017.
Okay, and this is a community for female entrepreneurs. What led you to do that?
I felt at that point in time that my experience as a female entrepreneur was a vastly different experience than what it might be like for a man who is an entrepreneur. We were talking about it a little bit before we started recording, but I’m a mom. So, I’ve got little kids at home, and depending on my husband’s work schedule, a lot of these networking events and things where professionals are meeting other professionals and possibly doing business with each other. A lot of them are cocktail hours, like bedtime in my house.
So it doesn’t really happen for me. I found that I had a hard time with sales. I didn’t feel very confident in pitching myself, which I did not see that to be the case for my male counterpart. So, I just felt that the experience of female entrepreneurship was a different experience, and it was something that we needed to talk about.
That’s awesome. There’s definitely a need and a place for that. I know when I started my company back in 2007, for Hollywood Branded, it was a very stark landscape. There was not a lot of females banded together to do support systems by any means, and there’s only a few things out there now that even offer those types of solutions. So that’s fantastic that you have that.
So today you wanted to talk about all things in pretty much mismatched communications, when you’re talking at someone versus talking to someone. Can we go into a little bit more detail on that and what has gotten you to be this massive advocate on cleaning up your conversations?
Totally, so I think that two things have really contributed to this. So first of all, when we are branding ourselves, branding isn’t just visual. It’s about the tone of your brand. It’s about your mission and how you communicate with people. So, when you are talking to people, when you’re trying to figure out what your messaging is, you’re encouraged to figure out your why. Why is it that you’re doing this? What do you want to give to people? We’re all encouraged to concentrate on ourselves instead of the people that we’re serving when we’re trying to figure out the why and the mission statement, and that gets us into the place of talking at people instead of talking with them, first of all.
So the second thing is that everything these days is so automated, and it’s a trap that I’ve fallen into myself. In order to make things easier on ourselves, we’re automating everything from our emails, to our social media posts, and that really gets us into a place of talking at people instead of talking with them, because we’re putting everything on autopilot. So, we’re not having conversations anymore.
It’s true. Everything’s just a wall coming at you all the time from all of these different sources including all of the lovely robo callers that we all get on our phones now. It’s classic influx of people coming at you. Okay, so how do you change that? What’s the first step? I mean, we’re using automation in order to streamline our lives, but your suggestion is to step back and not automate as much. So, how do you go about that and still keep things going?
In terms of automation, I think that we got this expectation that we need to have more. When I was starting on social media, I had a mentor that told me that he grew his account by Instagram by posting six to eight times a day. That’s so unrealistic even if you are automating, and that was so scary for me. So I think a less-is-more approach is really effective. Well, you don’t need to be posting. You don’t have to come up with new content constantly. You just have to make sure that when you are putting up content that it starts a conversation and that you’re engaging with people and that you’re active there, and maybe spend less time posting your content and more time engaging with other people’s content.
Okay, so more so going on to your Instagram, your Linkedin, your Facebook, your Twitter feeds, and actually having conversations and leaving comments versus just posting and waiting for people to respond to you.
Yeah, social media isn’t a billboard. It’s a place to be social. So, too many people are focusing on just getting all of this content up like it’s a billboard, and people are supposed to react to your content, and that’s always the hope. Instead, they should be focusing on the people that they’re serving instead of being content machines.
Okay, so what else can people do in order to better improve talking with people versus at them?
Well, they need to do their market research, and that comes back to the first thing that I talked about where we’re encouraged to talk about our why. What’s more important than our why is our client’s why or our customer’s why. So, a lot of times people produce content or services or even products that they think other people need. It seems like a great idea to them. But they’re not actually talking to the people that they want to serve, and it could be a much different experience when they actually take a step back and ask them questions about what they value.
And if it’s something that they would actually use, very, very simple questions about the product or service or the messaging that you’re using really makes it so that you can adjust that messaging. So it’s more like a conversation with your customer instead of you just explaining to them your why all the time.
Beyond the social media not being, I love the fact that you said it’s not a billboard. It’s a place to be social. Then beyond market research to determine the customer’s why, what else can people do?
I think those two places are the perfect place to start, and it’s hard because we made these habits of putting everything on autopilot and perfecting our messaging the way that we want it. It’s actually going to take a little bit of retraining to step back and start asking people questions and instead of pushing our content at them. It’ll take a little bit of practice to start commenting and engaging on other people’s social profiles instead of just pushing content out on ours. I think it’s also important in this gauge of digital that we live in, especially for marketers to remember that marketing didn’t start as an online thing.
We adapted when digital marketing came of age, and when the computers and the internet and the social media. But we were sharing marketing messages with each other long before that, and there’s this push to get away from tradition. There are some things about traditional marketing, worse, kind of falling back in love with again.
Okay, such as what? What do you like about it?
I like the in-person kind of things, so whether it’s networking events. I have a client right now that we’ve been doing all these digital marketing things. We got a little bit of conversions, but not a ton, and what really made a difference for them is when they started going door-to-door to these businesses that they wanted to serve and bringing a cup of coffee and introducing themselves and sitting down and having a conversation with these business owners. That is what moved the needle. So, I think we’re used to just sitting behind our screens and zoning out.
There’s a lot of value in finding where your ideal customer is, meeting them there, and engaging with them in a meaningful way, and that can be online too, but we can remember that it could also be offline.
And that specifically is true with B2B, right? So, you just mentioned that they’re going in and meeting with their business customers and having a coffee and sitting back, and that’s fantastic if they’re not trying to do something at massive scale. But usually with B2B, you’re able to actually open doors on a smaller level and then grow, versus trying to talk to or at a million people at one time versus a small handful.
Well, it also does amazing things for brand advocacy because then these people, they feel seen. They feel heard. They feel like they’ve got a direct line to your brand. So when we’re talking about scaling, having those people on your team is great because then they’re going to talk about their wonderful experience, sharing that with other people that they know in the industry, and that can help when it comes with scaling.
Okay, so with targeting and getting off of social and getting back out there and networking, how much of your marketing efforts do you think should be more so offline versus online?
That’s a good question because I honestly believe that it depends on the goals for the brand, and that’s a big marketing mistake that brands make, like there’s this one-size-fits-all marketing plan. You spend this much time on social and this much time blogging and this much time on PR and outreach. But I was with some companies, and we don’t do any PR at all, and we generate a ton of leads through Facebook ads campaign. Then I have other ones that do the door-to-door sales, and that has been instrumental in their growth. But it completely wouldn’t work for a different company.
So I think it really depends on what the goals are for your brand. If you’re looking to scale in a massive way, then you probably need to spend more time engaging online. If you are driven by each new sale that you get, if that helps your bottom line, then you probably need to be working on more of these deeper relationships in a one-on-one way.
Okay, so where are some of the big wins that brands can find? I know you mentioned that creating advocates who are going to help you scale. Are there other big wins that you found through clients when you’ve dialed back and you had taken this more into a direct conversational approach versus the social that you started off talking about?
Yeah, absolutely. I have another client that is a software client, and it’s been tough getting individuals on the software. So, a big win was when we actually started looking at these bigger companies and started talking to them about partnerships and how the software could benefit their customers. That was a big win because these companies already are in front of thousands upon thousands of people. So even if 10 or 20% of their users were interested in the app, that would increase our numbers by a big margin. So, us having the conversations with these companies was really, really valuable for the overall marketing of this product.
What goes wrong? What gets missing if you don’t actually start these conversations and start actually engaging with people and connecting?
I wouldn’t say nothing. I would say you look like everybody else. We talk about red ocean, blue ocean. I think most oceans at this point are a red ocean. So many of our industries are saturated, and it’s even more apparent because we’re all online together, so you’re not necessarily … You could be focusing on a local business, but you could do business with anyone anywhere in the world because of the internet. So, the way communicating works is it puts you into that blue ocean category where people feel valued.
They might feel like your product or service is different even if it really isn’t because they feel like they know you, and they trust you on a bigger level than if you weren’t communicating, where if you were just hiding behind the brand’s name.
What are some of the biggest challenges that you think people face?
I think the biggest challenges are a) mindset because we’ve got into this mindset that everything has an easy button. We can just automate things, and it’s going to work without us, and that we just have to post valuable content, and then customers are going to come to us. That’s just like an easy button mindset to me, and it’s not that simple. I think that getting out of that mindset where we can just set it and forget it and getting more into the mindset where we have to be intentional about the actions that we’re taking.
The other thing with time is that it does take more time to communicate with people and to talk with people than to talk at them. So, I think it’s really important that business owners or the marketing teams or whoever is responsible for that communication are budgeting more time for genuine interactions, and less time goes towards automating everything.
I think that’s fair enough. I mean, it’s really easy as a business to get caught up into making sure your message is being heard. But really what you’re saying is you need to make sure that your customers are actually having an opportunity to give you feedback and also be heard and participate in the conversation that you as a business is trying to get across, right?
Yeah, because I think your message will be heard if your customers feel heard. There’s so many marketing messages in our Facebook feed, anywhere we go. We could be at the bus stop, and it could be on our phones and our Facebook feed. So, people are programmed now to tune these messages out. So, if they feel like you’re having a conversation with them and not trying to blast them with a message, they’re much more likely to notice.
Okay, so what are other great ways to start conversations? I mean, if you don’t … Obviously, there’s network events that you can go and chat on with that. But besides going door-to-door and knocking on people’s doors, how do you suggest your clients start these conversations?
I think when it comes to social media, you want to find other people who are doing something similar or serving the same audience that you serve and start to become a part of the conversation.
Okay, and how is the best way to go about doing that besides throwing yourself in and just chatting? Or is that the best way?
I think throwing yourself in and chatting is really great. I’ve also heard a lot of Instagram influencers say that DMs are the best way to get in touch. Chatting in the captions and having conversations is great. But if you have something in common and you can create a genuine relationship, that one-on-one is really, really valuable, and you can do that with your customers as well.
There’s really pretty much every social platform you can do that with where you’re knocking on that individual and just reaching out and tapping them and seeing if they want to engage.
I know that when we’re working with social influencers, and we’re trying to get them to do a brand partnership, we’re not going to just post underneath something they’ve already posted. We are going to take it offline and have that conversation as a DM, and it is something that we see enormous results in people giving feedback with, because I think … Certainly, if you hit a certain celebrity status level out there in life, not that most of us are at that celebrity status level. You’re not having your social media DMs just filling up where it’s almost less than even your emails.
It’s something where you can stay on top of it. Something comes in, and it is something really easy to connect with, communicate with, and respond to.
Yeah, and if you engage with their content on a semi-regular basis, they’re probably going to be much more likely to open the DM. I heard an influencer say the other day that from leaving reviews on her podcast or commenting on her Instagram or being in her Facebook group. She recognizes me because she knows the people around her that are active with her content, and those are the people who she … Even though she may have never spoken with those people or met with those people in real life, she feels like those people are her tribe because they engage, and they care about what she writes.
So when you’re on the other side, and you’re trying to connect with an influencer, just engaging with their content will probably be the best way that you can then get their attention so that when you drop a DM, they’ll already recognize your name from their notification.
We’re talking influencers now. What about potential customers? Would you do the same approach?
Well, I definitely wouldn’t write on their Facebook wall or on their Instagram wall. That might be a little creepy, but I have actually DMed people to join certain challenges that I was running, and it was really effective. They really appreciated the personalized message and was like, “Hey, this would be a great week-long challenge that I could do.” So, having that interaction definitely has helped me with potential customers and conversion.
Okay, so let’s talk about challenges. I mean, that’s something that’s creative and unique and different to do as a business owner. So, can you share a little bit more about that as a way of doing outreach and creating a message platform to communicate around?
I like challenges because they’re designed for the individual, but it’s exactly that. It’s a challenge. So it really encourages conversation. People want to share their win for the day, or they felt blocked or confused by an assignment, so they’re talking to other people on the group. I think that’s a great way to bring people together and to start getting people to talk, and ultimately that will end up being valuable for you, but it’s extra valuable having the group mastermind thing going on.
Okay, so challenges worked for you best in a group setting where you’re on a LinkedIn group or a Facebook group or something along those lines?
Okay, so what are some words of caution to people about overly communicating? Can you take it too far? Can you go out there and try to talk with people at too high of a level?
I’m not sure if you can take it too far in that sense. I mean, it’s always worth a shot trying to start a conversation with someone. I think the only time that people take it too far is when somebody’s not responding to your messages, and you’re just continuing like, “Are you interested in this? Can I talk to you about this?” So that can become really spammy if you’re pushing too hard. A follow-up is always appreciated. People get busy, and sometimes they forget to connect, or they forget to go back and engage in the conversation.
But I’ve definitely been approached by people who are clearly trying to sell me things, not trying to have a conversation, and they just kept pushing, “Can I ask why you’re not interested in this?” That got really frustrating and felt like a drain on my time.
Yeah, there’s also the cheese factor, like you know when you’re on LinkedIn and someone emails you, and they just ask this weird esoteric question? You know they’re just trying to get you to actually give something, anything, back because it’s a desert out there, and it can be hard to actually get people to respond to you. But sometimes, the conversations that people lead with are so cheesy or over-the-top that it just makes me at least look down upon the brand that they’re putting together versus keeping it at a level where I respect it and I understand it and I want to participate in it. So, how do you avoid going there?
I think again it’s like those people are talking at you. They don’t really care about what the answer to the question is. They’re just trying to do something that’s going to capture your interest. So, I think that what that really comes back to is, “Are you talking at people? Or are you trying to talk with them? Are you trying to have a genuine conversation? Or are you just trying to get a certain answer out of them, so you can push yourself or push your product or your service down their throats?”
Okay, fair enough, and how do you see this evolving? I mean, we’ve gone from everyone communicated. Everyone was doing cocktail hours. It was meet and greet. It was lots of conversations to the age of the social era where everything’s behind a computer. People are backed off, locked down, overwhelmed by everything they have to do and all the content. Where is this going in the future? Where do you think our conversations are going to be taking place?
I’m not sure because the internet’s not going anywhere. I mean, these social platforms are not going anywhere. So, I don’t think these conversations are going to be happening online. I think that people are more interested in the one-on-one, so even though a lot of that conversation that we were having a networking group is now happening online. It’s not necessarily happening in the captions. It’s more happening in the DM, so I think that people are really going to value that that one-on-one experience.
So, I think we’ve gone from networking in person to the collective with social media, and now we’re trying to bring it back around to where it’s a more intimate experience by jumping into one another’s DMs and actually having conversations.
Okay. I also think videoconferencing is a big part of the future. I mean, it’s the today, but to me, it’s also something that … It used to be you would jump on planes. You would do new business meetings all the time as a business owner, and that’s dialed back. People just got busy. We still do it, but it’s less I think, or at least it seems to be less to me. Then it was just phone calls, and it was impersonal. You would have a conversation, and you do your pitch. You hear what they’d have to say. You then chase them down and try to keep on chasing, chasing, chasing.
Then where I love where it’s going now is having these tools like Zoom, like BlueJeans, like UberConference, all of these different things where it’s so easy to actually jump on and see face-to-face someone. So it’s not just a phone call. It’s now actually a video chat where you’re seeing expressions, and you’re seeing a conversation where they’re not in the same room as you, but it’s so much more like that. So I think technology is taking us to a place where we can actually better communicate in some ways.
Absolutely. I think Loom is another good one. It’s definitely one that you’re not face-to-face, right? You’re not on a Zoom call, but it allows people to respond to each other with an authentic comment. You can hear their voice. You can see their face, and it’s like video voicemail. So, video conferencing is great, and especially for somebody like me, I don’t work with any of my clients in person. So that is a really great thing to be able to do is the video conferencing. But for something like Loom, you have the ability to leave them a message or answer a question that you can do it with your voice and your face and through video instead of just typing something back. I think that the ability to do that makes us feel more connected.
This is Loom. L-O-O-M? And you can do it as a Google … sorry … as a Chrome extension, I think? It just seems-
I’ll have to look that up. I’m not sure if it’s Chrome extension, but it gives you a little link that you can send to someone, and then it’s like their own special links that they can open and see what you recorded for them.
Yeah, we use that. Actually, I have an assistant who’s overseas, and she works with me. Whenever I’m showing her things like with our website. So it works especially well for working and collaborating on a project where otherwise she’d be screen-grabbing and cutting and pasting and trying to throw all these things together and writing. And instead, it actually lets her see me talking, see my face, hear me, and then watch what I’m doing on screen or on my desktop wherever I’m going, so that she actually can participate and then respond back, and it makes it a lot easier for us to work together and collaborate.
Yeah, I’m a big over-communicator. So, whether it’s with my clients or my assistant, I can feel like I’m not getting my point across when I’m writing something down, or I’m typing something or sending an email. So being able to say it out loud makes me feel a lot more clear, and I always hope that it does for them too.
I think that makes sense, and I think that quite frankly, especially when there might be language barriers, and with the whole thing if the world is flat and we work all over the place, I think that communication verbally with video goes across a lot better sometimes than writing too.
Any other hot topic points about communicating better that you want to share and address today with our listeners?
Spending time, being social on social media instead of just pushing out content is huge, and taking the time to get to know the people that you’re trying to serve instead of trying to serve them the way that you want to or you think they need to be served. They’ll tell you how they want to be served, and that is how we create better marketing messages and how we talk with people and have conversations instead of talking at them.
Stacy: 34:17 So you have your wonderful, fantastic platform Making Moxie. How can people learn more about that? Where can they go, so that if they’re a female entrepreneur, they could actually learn from you?
Shauna: 34:31 The best place to go is makingmoxie.com. We’re on Facebook. We’re on Instagram. But sending an email or something to the contact form on the website. I am in my emails all day. I love to hear from people. So, I will always communicate with you right back.
Okay, and is that the best way for people to get in touch with you as well?
Perfect. Well, I want to thank you again, Shauna, for joining us today, and thank all of you listeners for tuning in to Marketing Mistakes and How to Avoid Them. Shauna’s provided a tremendous amount of valuable advice on how to better communicate specifically with social media, as well as going out and doing your real market research, and I know I appreciate the time she shared with us today.
Shauna, thank you again.
Thanks so much for having me.
Of course, and I will chat with everyone else again on our next podcast.
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